In this episode we head to Atlanta, Georgia, to take a look at a new level of construction using eco-friendly building materials and techniques. In fact, the entire community we visited, right down to the streets and sidewalks, was built with “green” in mind.
The homes are quieter and more energy efficient, since they use energy efficient windows and open cell foam insulation. Other green products used include:
- Photovoltaic solar panels
- Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL)
- Energy Star appliances
- Programmable thermostats
- Tankless hot water heaters
- Rain water collection systems
Keep in mind if you’re looking to go green with your remodel or new home construction, you’ll pay 10 to 15% more for the materials; but that will be made up over time in energy savings.
Secret to Going Green
I used to drive through Atlanta during my days in college when traveling from Mobile to Greenville, South Carolina. Even back in those days, it was always bustling with activity, and they were constantly working on the interstate.
This trip was a real eye opener to see how big the city has grown in the past twenty-plus years. With all the growth and the industrial sites everywhere, it was almost culture shock to drive into the Glenwood Park neighborhood.
Tucked away in the heart of the city is this little time capsule, yet with a plethora of 21st century features. Of course, it does come with a hefty price tag; but most people will agree that the overall cost is worth it, especially if you live there. After this one visit, I understand why, too. What I do have a hard time understanding, though, is why it has to cost so much more to embrace the green building standards.
I took a little time to research this and discover that the 15% average cost increase could be reduced significantly if only the builders would go directly to the source for green products instead of relying on their usual suppliers. It’s one of the simplest laws of retail. Eliminate the middle man, and you reduce your overhead. This is where it takes educating consumers and contractors.
If you are planning to incorporate green building practices into your next home or remodeling job, make sure you talk to your contractor about purchasing the green products directly from the manufacturer, as opposed to the big box retailers. Prices could drop down to only 5% more than standard construction costs, which is far better than 15%.
It was amazing that we were only a stone’s throw from the interstate. While taping some of the segments in the park, we often had to stop and wait for a large truck to rumble past. It was obvious that work was still going on just by the decibel output. Yet, walk inside the house and shut the door and not a sound. This is the sign of a well-sealed house.
If you get the chance to view the show again, look carefully at the close up shot of the programmable thermostat. You’ll see that the setting was on 62 degrees, and you’ll also see that the house was a comfortable 68 degrees inside. This was after the temperature dropped into the mid to low 30s the night before and the heater never kicked on, not even once!
Indoor Air Quality
At this point, however, I think it’s important to bring up a very important issue. With a house sealed as tightly as this one in Atlanta, indoor air quality could become a major concern. This is where the concept of green building really shines. By eliminating the types of materials that contain formaldehyde and eliminating paints chock full of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), you have less worry of a poor indoor air quality. This home goes even an extra step by incorporating HEPA air filters and an ultraviolet air cleaner.
After my visit to Atlanta’s Glenwood Park, I’m a believer. I would encourage all our viewers to take some time and find out how you can incorporate some green into your own homes.
Other Tips From This Episode
Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
If you’re going to paint, it’s important to buy the best paintbrush you can afford and clean it thoroughly after each use. To make cleanup easier, wrap masking tape around the metal band ferrell that joins the handle to the bristles, overlapping the bristles by about 1/4″. This will prevent paint from getting stuck in that joint between ferrell and bristles, which typically makes it hard to clean. After you’ve painted, and thoroughly cleaned the brush either put the brush back in its original packaging and lay it flat so it keeps its shape or wrap the brush in brown paper to accomplish the same thing. (Watch Video)
Best New Products with Danny Lipford:
Wilsonart High Definition Plastic Laminate
Now you can get the look of real stone in a plastic laminate countertop. Wilsonart high definition laminate has subtle variations to give it the look of natural stone for a lot less. And it has three times the wear resistance as the industry standard; so you’re free to cook, clean, and spill without worry. The surface is also non-porous; so you don’t need to reseal your countertops from time to time like you do with stone. Wilsonart high definition laminate countertops cost about $25 per square foot installed.
Around the Yard with Tricia Craven Worley:
When pruning trees, it’s important to remove branches that cross over each other or are dead. Start by taking the weight off the end of the limb you want to remove by cutting it off in three-foot sections. This will keep the branch from splitting and give you a clean cut when you make the final cut on the limb near the trunk of the tree. Cutting the limb in sections also will allow you to easily dispose of the branch at the street for pick-up. (Watch Video)
One important note about a super tight home.
The trade off for a tight home is that we need mechanical systems to bring in and remove air.We exhaust air in bathrooms and kitchen hoods which remove odors or fresh air for gas appliances and are important,so any air removed from the home has to be made up.If the home is in a negative pressure then the air will be brought in through any leaks in the building envelope.If that air isn’t conditioned we loose the energy rating we are trying to accomplish.The mechanical systems need to be maintained to the nth degree.The home will be very cheap to operate,but will need more attention to maintance on the mechanical equipment.But just because the home is very efficiant doesn’t mean its worry free.In fact it may be the opposite.The overall payback is well worth the effort for all of us.
Thanks for the site Danny and Allen .
Where can I find low cost closed cell foam? I’m a contractor and very willing to do it myself. So far, when looking at closed cell foam, I’ve been unable to come close to the cost of fiberglass ($0.30 for walls and $0.75 for ceilings).
What is the deal with rubber mulch? Some say non-toxic and others say fumes and chemical leaching may be a problem. What is the LATEST?